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Culinary Conquest of Key West

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I am a first time poster but have used chowhound.com on numerous occasions... My wife and I just spent this past week in Key West celebrating our 10th anniversary and tried several locations based upon this site and we wanted to contribute...

Latitudes- This was a fantastic location that we saved for our anniversary night which was spectacular. It is appropriately expensive yet impressively more casual than you would imagine. One takes a ferry to the Island and then we requested and were granted a special table on the beach surrounded by tikki torches. Each course was phenomenal and the concoctions were so unique and involved that I can hardly recall all of the special little elements.

Camille's- We were delighted to discover this little French Cafe and were impressed with the #1 national rating for breakfast... We very much enjoyed the breakfast/ brunch but weren't certain that it should have such a high consideration. Very much recommended but note they close between lunch and dinner.

Santiago Bodega- An especially delightful Tapas location... Very well done and especially yummy... Prices were appropriate... The place is quite small and cozy so the tables were a bit closer than we like and the place fills up quickly. We arrived at 6PM on a Thursday and were the 2nd ones there and by 615PM only 1 table was available... It was fantastic... The biggest issue is that we walked everywhere while in the Keys and this place is located in an incredibly BAD area of town... Please take a pedicab or ride bikes or go before dark.

Calypso- A fantastic location we tried on our ride into the Keys (Islamorada) and I had the especially freshly caught Mahi Mahi encrusted in a coconut coating and covered with a butter pecan sauce... Absolutely incredible... The location is just as you would imagine an ocean front cafe to be... An again appropriately priced...

El Siboney- A great find for authentic Cuban food. Their specialties seem to be Ropa Viejo and Paella... The Paella takes an hour for preparation so I went with the Ropa Vieja and it was excellent along with the yellow rice, black beans and plantains... Our dinner for 2 (no alcohol) came to $23 before tip... We did think that the non-specialties might be a bit on the bland side but we enjoyed what we had... And you can't beat the price...

Blonde Giraffe- Wonderful location for both Key Lime Pie and Chocolate covered frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick... Please note this is a dessert only location... We originally arrived wanting to get some dinner too and so we left and returned when we were only interested in dessert... Incredible dessert...

Blue Heaven- Let me preface these comments by saying the Caribbean Jerk Chicken was very nicely spicy and a very generous portion. My wife only had black bean soup and salad and very much enjoyed that as well as it was fresh and healthy... We didn't enjoy our experience there and wouldn't revisit this location... We visited the location after dark and as we were walking to this horribly located restaurant felt unsafe multiple times... Upon arrival we felt that while we were escaping being robbed on the approach we were clearly being fleeced at the restaurant... We just moved to Orlando from Los Angeles and are very accustomed to paying very well for fantastic food... But here they have a simple Chicken Sir-Fry for $27 which we thought was ridiculous... And they seem to know that they are fleecing their guests as they have warnings on their menus that if you don't tip well they will enforce "their right" to an 18% tip... We thought this very tacky and not quite "their right..." We were mostly planning during dinner how we would depart the restaurant and safely return to our Bed and Breakfast...

B&O Fish Wagon- OK so here is another sacred cow of Key West and we want to include our 2 cents on this place... We would say this is place is a "Hole in the Wall" but it is more accurately described as a "Hole" as there aren't walls... The 1/2 pound burgers and fresh cut fries were fantastic and the cooks seemed to be especially clean which we felt was their overcompensation for an absolute wreck of boards and metal pieced together and puddles on the floor and so forth... If this was our complete experience we would have said what a great ChowHound find!!! HOWEVER, we were put off by some unsanitary observations and will refrain from the details at this time... And 2 burgers and fries, sodas and 6 conch fritters put us back about $40 so that was a bit out of line as well...

Lazy Gecko- Ok so I let my wife pick one restaurant that wasn't on my ChowHound approved list... :( It was average bar food but was conveniently located for our day's activities as well as in line with my pregnant wife's cravings... She won the decision but agreed to stick to my ChowHound approved list the rest of the trip...

A couple Key West notes: ChowHounders should be aware of some of the culinary culture of Key West... Many locations ONLY accept cash... Also there were numerous cats and chickens that seem to have free roam of the Island and sometimes of the restaurants as well...

So thank you all for your guidance and insight as our trip was wonderful... We hope that our fresh insights will further benefit those who follow behind us!!

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  1. Actually, Calypso is at MM 99 in Key Largo.
    The butter pecan mahi is one of their signature dishes. I have had most everything on the menu but not this. I'll have to give it a try.

    1. Yikes, couldn't agree more with you on B.O. Fishwagon! We had 2 drinks and the conch fritters for $15.00...there was so much batter on the conch it was hard to find. Our visit was memorable but not enough to ever want to go back. It is definitely pricey for a hole to eat in.

      1. BO is ALL about the fish sandwich. The fish is always fresh and changes depending on what was just caught. My mouth waters just thinking about it...